Poetry News

Eileen Myles Reviews Can Xue's Love in the New Millennium

By Harriet Staff

"Starvation and Suffering Also Get You High," goes the headline in Eileen Myles's new piece about the writing in Can Xue's Love in the New Millennium, at the Paris Review. "In Can Xue’s Love, all the characters are connected to each other. There’s no one story I can tell. And they are laughing about it, too. At their own inconstancy, their changeability," they write. More:

The “real” time of the book is unusual. Everyone seems to be outside their life, on a day off, in prison, or on a trip—forever. Yet people eagerly clamor—everywhere they go—in the city streets at night in order to collectively compose the immense play of social reality.

To talk, perhaps? There is no small talk, no phatic. It’s emphatic all the time.

In Love in the New Millennium everyone is a wit, especially children, and everyone has thought deeply about things. The surface is deep. To speak in operatic utterances is the norm. They have great names: Mr. You, Fourth Uncle, Little Rose, a vagrant is named Long Hair. A cabdriver arrives at exactly the right moment to hiss at his passenger: “Your problem is written on your face. The answer is inside my taxi. Get in the car.”

Part of the difficulty of reading Love in the New Millennium was that I couldn’t stop tweeting passages. To be a reader was to become a trailer, and to become an actor, too. It’s irresistible, the way one enters this laughable, shifting no-time where everyone inside is talking about like the weather. It’s also very boring, as a plotless book is. A circling, nonbuilding narrative gets tiring. What’s the pleasure, then? Humor and surprise. It’s a frankly poetic existence. Plus my reader’s sense of awe grew continually at the endless refillability of the thing. The book is a vase, it’s a form...

More of this review at the Paris Review

Originally Published: November 21st, 2018